In this, my final blog post before the baby is born and I will no longer be able to type completely uninterrupted, I have decided to touch on some things I have learned from my parents, grandparents, and others along the way. I think I have learned a lot. No parent knows everything, and no parent does everything right. It’s a journey that goes differently for everyone. I get a little frustrated when I am given advice on my new baby as if I have never even seen a tiny human before, when in reality I spent more time than a lot of people taking care of my brother and sister. So without further ado, here are the top 3 things I have taken to heart about parenting and hope to successfully apply to raising my baby girl.
Let the girl where blue nail polish.
This is more about letting your child be themselves, than it is about the color of their fingernails. When we were young and my mom and step-dad were still married, I had never been told “No, you can’t wear that color.” My grandpa would tease me a little, but never tell me to take it off, and I assumed he was joking. My step-dad, on the other hand, would only allow my step-sister to wear “girl colors” like pink. Not purple. Just pink. I could tell this greatly impacted her as a person. As teens/young adults we both went through our hair color phases, but he didn’t expect me to go teal. He looked at me and mumbled to where my sister couldn’t hear: “I thought you were the normal one.” Can you say identity problems?
My takeaway: Sure, kids need guidance and you can’t let them dress like a stripper to pre-k. But to some extent, they need to know that they can be themselves and that they will still be loved.
Help plan senior skip day.
Yes. My mom instigated senior skip day. Her theory was that we were going to do it anyway and she would rather know where we were. Sadly, one of our friend’s moms forbade him from skipping. It was a small town and she would definitely know if he went anyway, so it didn’t happen. We couldn’t go without him.
My takeaway: Be active in your child’s life, but don’t helicopter. My mom has had some strict rules throughout my life, but in hindsight I have always been able to figure out what her reasoning was, and it ultimately made me a better person even if it pissed me off at the time. Rules and boundaries are not old school, use them. I knew she loved me, and cared about my well being. This lead to me in the future, being hours away in college, being the only one of my friends to call and let my mom know we were going on an impromptu trip two hours away from campus. A few girls teased me, but one of them said “I wish my mom gave a damn where I was.” Goal: don’t let your kids grow up to feel that way.
Their favorite character matters.
One of the things I still get a little frustrated with, is my mom’s inability to pretend to care about certain interests. I have always been a video game/movie nerd. Like most kids, when a new game or movie would come out, I’d get excited and want to talk up a storm. My typical rants were over Legend of Zelda. I would try and talk to my mom, but ultimately she made it clear that she couldn’t care less about video games. My grandma, on the other hand, would listen to me talk about anything from farts to flowers. I wondered if maybe she was just pretending to listen, but one day we were in the store and I hear her say, “Look, there’s Link” and I looked over and saw a Legend of Zelda display with Link on it. What’s important about this? Most people that don’t care would call Link by Zelda’s name. My grandma had legitimately been listening to me.
My takeaway: Just like in friendship, you don’t necessarily have to like everything they like, but sharing in your child’s excitement is another way to show you care. Active listening to small things lets them know then during a big thing, you will definitely listen.